Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Summary of Forces - End of November 1808

Summary of Forces - end of November 1808


VIII Corps (Lisbon/Bayonne) - Junot (being returned to France after the Convention of Cintra):
16000 Infantry, 2000 Cavalry, 42 Guns

II Corps (Astorga) - Soult
24000 Infantry, 2000 Cavalry, 24 Guns

Lefebevre-Desnouttes' Division (Leon) - 4000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns

Caffarrelli's Division (Palencia) - 4000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Burgos Garrison: 2000

Army of Spain (Palencia) - Joseph Napoleon
6000 Infantry, 2000 Cavalry, 12 Guns

I Corps (east of Valladolid) - Victor
21000 Infantry, 4000 Cavalry, 54 Guns

IV Corps (Valladolid) - Lefebvre
12000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 36 Guns

San Sebastian Garrison: 2000

Pamplona Garrison: 2000

Tudela Garrison: 1000

Zaragoza Garrison: 4000

Bayonne Garrison: 6000

II Corps (Valladolid) - Moncey
26000 Infantry, 5000 Cavalry, 60 Guns

VII Corps (Rosas) - St-Cyr
18000 Infantry, 2000 Cavalry, 24 Guns + 36 Siege Guns

Chabran (Hostalrich)
6000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns

Reille (Gerona)
5000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Figueras Garrison: 3000

Barcelona Garrison: 2000

General HQ: 12000 Infantry, 12000 Cavalry, 78 Guns

Lannes' Wing (Lannes): 41000 Infantry, 2000 Cavalry, 78 Guns


Army of Andalusia (Avila) - Castanos
25000 Infantry, 3000 Cavalry, 42 Guns

La Pena's Division (Toledo) - 5000 Infantry, 6 Guns

 IV Army (Seville) - Elio
12000 Infantry, , 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns

O'Donoju (south of Andujar)
1000 Cavalry

Seville Garrison: 4000 Infantry

Cadiz Garrison: 8000 Infantry

Malaga Garrison: 2000 Infantry

Huelva Garrison: 3000 Infantry

waiting west of Granada: 7000 Infantry

Granada Garrison: 3000 Infantry, 2000 Cavalry

Army of the Centre (Cadiz) - Cuesta
9000 Infantry, 3000 Cavalry, 12 Guns

Ciudad Rodrigo Garrison: 1000 Infantry

Badajoz Garrison: 6000 Infantry

Army of Galicia (Ponferrada) - Mahy
21000 Infantry, 54 Guns

Astorga Garrison: 7000 Infantry

Ponferrada Garrison: 4000 Infantry

La Coruna Garrison: 2000 Infantry

Vigo Garrison: 3000 Infantry

Army of Valencia (Avila) - Cervellon
20000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 54 Guns

Valencia Garrison: 1000 Infantry

Cartagena Garrison: 4000 Infantry

Murcia Garrison: 2000 Infantry

Army of Catalonia (Tortosa) - Palacio
5000 Infantry, 12 Guns

Hostalrich Garrison: 1000 Infantry

Tarragona Garrison: 1000 Infantry

Tortosa Garrison: 3000 Infantry

Rosas Garrison: 2000 Infantry

Gerona Garrison: 2000 Infantry


Gibraltar Garrison: 6000 Infantry

British Army (west of Avila) - Moore
36000 Infantry, 4000 Cavalry, 72 Guns

Ferguson (Lisbon) - 3000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Peninsular Campaign Summary - November 1808

Peninsular Campaign Summary - November 1808

Andalusia and New Castile:

Elio and Cuesta continued their recruitment operations, Cuesta building a base around Cadiz whilst Elio concentrated around Granada.  There is an absolute limit on how many Spanish divisions can be supported at any one time - and a limit of how many troops a single division can contain - so the plan is for divisions destroyed in the North to be rebuilt as part of these two armies in the South.  Only La Pena's division of the Army of Andalusia remained in New Castile, in the vicinity of Toledo, basically supply-gathering to sustain Castanos pursuit of Moncey into Leon.

Leon and Castile:

Napoleon, clearly unhappy that Bessieres was taking so long to destroy the Army of Galicia, replaced Bessieres with Marshal Soult at the head of the II Corps.  After concentrating his forces and preparing his base, he struck westwards at Astorga and defeated Mahy in a particularly grim struggle, which cost the French about 5,000 casualties and two dozen guns, and the Spanish twice that. Mahy has withdrawn towards the Galician mountains, leaving Soult to blockade the 6,000 Spaniards garrisoning Astorga.
Moncey escaped Castanos and Cervellon, and was then joined by Lefebevre's and Victor's Corps around Valladolid.  Clumsy supply and command arrangements kept hindering the Spanish pursuit and the two armies are now concentrated around Avila.  However, they have been joined in the area by Moore, who has marched via Bejar to reinforce them.

France and Navarre:

Napoleon and the Imperial Guard, Ney's VI Corps and Mortier's V Corps have entered Spain and are marching towards Burgos, with elements spread from Miranda to Pamplona.


Remained quiet.


St-Cyr, having replaced Duhesme and watched Palacio retreat to Tarragona, has concentrated his efforts on properly organising the campaign in Catalonia.  To that end, the Spanish garrisons in Rosas, Gerona and Hostalrich have been blockaded whilst the Neapolitan division has accompanied a newly-created siege train to Rosas, in readiness for tackling the fortresses


Quiet, no action.


Quiet, no action.

Game Notes:

A good month for the French, with II Corps in unmistakeable ascendancy over the Army of Galicia, whilst the future looks even brighter as the French reinforcements pile in to Spain.  St-Cyr is well set to begin the reduction of the troublesome fortresses in Catalonia next month.  However, the union of the Spanish armies of Castanos and Cervellon with the British Army under Sir John Moore mean that the Allies are in possession of one large and effective strike force.  The big question will be how the Allies employ it before the remaining French forces pass Burgos.

Saturday 14 June 2014

Campaign Battle 11: Crossing of the Orbigo

Crossing of the Orbigo, Mid-November 1808

General Situation: Marshal Soult, newly appointed commander of the Imperial II Corps, pursued Mahy's force towards their base at Astorga, hoping to capitalize on the ascendancy eventually gained by Bessieres over the Spanish Commander.  Mahy has reinforced the garrison at Astorga, his main supply depot and has then marched forwards to try and stop Soult's approach, or at least make him pay heavily for the attempt.

The Forces:

Imperial Forces:
II Corps (CinC Marshal Soult - Decisive)
Lasalle's Division: 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns
Merle's Division: 7000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Mouton's Division: 7000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns,
Desolles' Division: 12000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Lefebevre-Desnouttes' Division: 4000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns
II Corps Artillery: 24 Guns
Totals: 30000 Infantry, 3000 Cavalry, 54 Guns

Spanish Forces:
Army of Galicia (CinC Gen Mahy - Plodding)
Maceda's Division: 2000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Cagigal's Division: 2000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Riquelme's Division: 6000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Portago's Division: 4000 Infantry, 30 Guns
March's Division: 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns
Acevedo's Division: 8000 Infantry, 6 Guns


French at the bottom (East), Spanish at the top.  The French have Mouton's division to the left, then Desolles' Division, then Lefebevre-Desnouttes' Division then a grand battery.  Lasalle's division is next, then Merle's Division on the right.  The Spanish have Maceda's division guarding the bridge on their right, Cagigal's infantry and March's cavalry and Acevedo's division in reserve, Riquelme's division guard the central bridge and Portago's troops guard the northern bridge (top-right).

Soult decides to concentrate his main effort on the central bridge - the massed artillery will prepare the way for a direct assault over the bridge.
 First Moves:

Sometimes the answer to a tactical problem is a charge straight up the middle, commander at the front waving his hat.  Soult leads the infantry attack in person, as soon as the grand battery has shaken up the Spaniards of Riquelme's Division opposite and the bridge is taken.

Soult exploits his success, routing half of Portago's troops and advancing up the road.  Mahy desperately tries to get his reserves forward to stabilize the situation, whilst the rest of Lefebevre-Desnouettes's division comes up.

Mahy is able to bring Cagigal's troops towards the French left and reinforces Portago's troops with Acevedo's division and stabilizes the situation.
 The Struggle:

Mouton's attack on the southern bridge is easily beaten back by Maceda's infatry and guns. The Spanish artillery played upon the leading French troops with some effect during the course of the game.

Meanwhile, Soult has got more troops over the bridge.  However, Mahy has brought two brigades across from Portago's Division and Soult's troops are facing Spaniards on three flanks and, perhaps recklessly, Mahy is determined to counter-attack...
 The Crisis of the Battle:

The troops brought over from Portago's division attack the French with telling effect.  Riquelme's troops successfully charged the French guns, but were then defeated by the advance of more French infantry.  This infantry can be seen exploiting success (at the top of the screen), destroying some of Acevedo's raw levies.

Same position from a different angle.  The Spaniards have at least given the French something to think about, although the situation in the centre is parlous in the extreme.

Mahy leads a successful charge on the advanced French infantry in person and they are beaten, surrendering en masse!  Meanwhile, some of the French troops are hanging on to their bridgehead by their fingernails, whilst others have been thrown back over the bridge in confusion.  A battle that looked like an easy French victory after an hour is now looking likely to be an ignominious French defeat...

Mahy launches a co-ordinated attack on the French bridgehead.

After an incredibly bloody struggle, the French may have gained an improbable victory!  Soult, leading a regiment of French light infantry has routed twice their numbers of Spanish and is pursuing.  Their divisional commander (Portago) has become discouraged, possibly wounded in the fighting and has given the order to withdraw, uncovering the Spanish left!!  In the centre, the French have been fought out and are holding on for dear life.  Can reinforcements reach them before their imminent collapse...?  Unfortunately Soult's heroics have earnt him a musket ball into the flesh of his thigh and the French command is thrown into temporary confusion.
 The Victory!

A French victory! Soult's troops, reinforced with some brigades of Desolles', have fought off the deperate Spanish counter-attacks, both sides suffering heavy losses.  Although French morale was looking distinctly shaky and the remaining Spanish formation were in good heart, Mahy realized that the game was up and that he could not afford to risk the loss of his final two divisions (Maceda's and Acevedo's).  He used them to cover the withdrawal.  Note Merle's troops on the right of the picture about to cross the bridge unopposed.

Maceda's troops successfully disengage from Mouton's division.
 Result: Both sides suffered very heavy casualties, with the casualties even until the Spanish lost disproportionately heavily in the last couple of turns as many of their infantry surrendered .  The Spaniards have lost 8500 infantry, 750 cavalry and 24 guns (with an even split of casualties and prisoners), the Imperials 4100 infantry, 550 cavalry and 24 guns.  Luckily for Mahy, the French were in no condition to pursue, otherwise his command might have been destroyed in its entirety.

Game Notes: An absolutely thrilling game, one of the best I've played!  The shape of the game turned around two large errors of generalship on my part.  The Spanish position was compromised by mis-deployment: Riquelme's troops should have been on the stronger position on the Spanish right, whilst Maceda's veterans should have held the central position.  Soult exploited this ruthlessly and might have gained a victory in short order.  However, the French were then too aggressive, which allowed Mahy to pull off an extremely effective counter-attack.  The key moment of the game was the victory of the French legere over the previously successful troops of Portago's division - the morale roll was extremely tight, but the French held on and Portago threw in the towel, but this could easily have gone differently.  If Lefebevre-Desnoutte's formation had withdrawn, then the French would have almost certainly lost the battle: their tactical position would have been compromised, but more importantly there was a 66% chance that the French army's morale would have collapsed - presumably by the unsuspected ferocity of Spanish resistance!

It has been nice to get the campaign on the go again.  I don't think using single 60mm x 30mm bases looks as good as the paired bases for the brigade, but given the change in table space, I think it works well enough to persever with.  I just need a permanent place for my campaign map now...

Polemos SPQR Battle

I played a little game of Polemos SPQR to test out my new terrain - new cloth, new roads.  I'll let the pictures tell the story, then pick out a few points of interest at the end:

I'm missing a start-of-battle shot, but this is the position on turn 3 I think:  The Roman Cavalry are in trouble in the centre (left of picture) having been flung back down the central hill by the Britons' skirmishers.  The Roman Cavalry on the right are in trouble too - the Britons' Light Horse have attacked the Roman Cavalry in the process of crossing the stream and are coming out on top.  The Roman II Legion advances towards the stream in the centre of the shot.

Meanwhile, the Romans' IX Legion and Numidian cavalry attempt to outflank the Britons' right flank. But surely the Britons will react to this obvious move?
The Britons repeat what has worked well on their left flank - charge the Romans as they are disordered by crossing the stream.  The Britons' leader takes control of the charge personally leading a small force of light horse into the attack and forcing the Romans back.  The Roman cavalry in the centre have resumed the attack.
But the Roman cavalry on the right are in worsening trouble, some having been routed already and the remainder becoming increasingly disordered under the onslaught of the Britons' horse. Notice the development of the Romans' flank attack though...
Two cohorts of legionaries in desperate trouble as the Britons' war leader leads his mounted followers.  However, whilst so occupied, who is commanding the British force?  Disaster!  The warriors on the Britons' left, seemingly engrossed by the battles to their front, have been caught in the flank by the Numidians!!  The remainder of the II Legion are in a sharp combat with the opposing tribesmen on the hill.  The Roman general has led his cavalry unit to success in the centre, whilst the other unit of cavalry has been defeated by the Britons.

The same position from a differnet angle.  You can see on the extreme right that the Britons' light horsemen are reforming, having seen off the Roman cavalry on that wing.
The Britons' left has now been destroyed by Roman cavalry and the IX Legion.  The combination of II Legion and Numidian cavalry has defeated the Britons in the centre too.  At this point, the Britons' morale collapsed, giving victory to the Romans.
A hard-fought contest, with the Britons and their slightly weaker forces coming close to pulling off an unlikley victory, but unfortunately the rules penalize the command abilities of leaders involved in close combat heavily, so although the Britons' leader led his cavalry to personal victory, he was unable to command his army effectively and the Romans, with a more decentralized structure, were able to continue their outflanking move which ultimately brought success.

Friday 6 June 2014

New Roads, Courtesy of Miniature Wargames

Whilst I'm still deciding what to do with my Napoleonic campaign, given my new problems with space (and a bit of a disaster when a small child got hold of the campaign map), I've had a game or two of Polemos SPQR and got on with a spot of terrain making and painting.  I'd never been particularly happy with the roads I'd made and when an article appeared in Miniature Wargames 374 which demonstrated a way to make some good-looking, cheap, flexible roads in very little time, I was immediately interested.

Roman Cavalry on the dirt road face some skirmishers in the rough ground, whilst the main force of Britons waits on the hill opposite.

A Roman Legion looks across the stream towards the Britons blocking the road on the hill to their front.

A closer look at the road section.  The road follows the curve of the mat really well.
Sorry for the particularly poor shots, but hopefully it gives the idea that the roads at least look nice!  I'm really pleased with the way it turned out - well done Miniature Wargames and thanks.